I read lots of folks lamenting over family and friends who don’t embrace prepping. I can’t blame them. Images of being holed up in an underground bunker, sleeping on a canvas cot, crapping in a coffee can doesn’t appeal to them. Me either.
Even though it’s going more mainstream, “prepping” is prison. You feel shackled. You can’t tell anyone you’re storing extra food, bullets, or even band aids. If we don’t observe OpSec (Operational Security) we get labeled “prepper”, ”survivalists” – or even worse, extremist. We wake up in a puddle of sweat worried that we’re not ready for TEOTWAWKI and TSHTF because we’re not living off-grid in the boonies with three years of food storage, fuel storage, and the latest weapons. We’re scared to build community – afraid to blow our cover. It’s that OpSec thing again.
Welcome to Prepper Prison. The bars and razor wire are in our minds and souls. Fear rules. Doom and gloom is upon us! The experts tell us how to get ready. What to buy. Skills to learn. Books to read. Where to move. Lists to make. Here’s a news flash: We’ll never be completely ready. You might possess expert knowledge in one area, but no person can do it all. Don’t underestimate the importance of community in making your jailbreak.
I began tunneling out of my cell last month. I felt like “Andy” in Shawshank Redemption. He was wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He finally quite accepting the institutional ‘authorities’ plan for his life. He planned his escape. He had lots of time and a will to be free. His tools of freedom were a rock hammer, a pin-up poster, and his fellow inmates – “Red” in particular. Pressure and time did the rest. It was a simple choice: “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” He chose living.
I often wonder if I’m good enough. Do I have enough stuff to get me through the next two inches of snow? Don’t laugh my Yankee friends. We shut down around here with a light dusting. A run on bread, milk, eggs, and PBR soon follows.
With Dirt Road Girl not working, we’ve slashed our survival supplies. Honesty is a crazy quality. I’m the first to admit I’m no guru at preparedness or self-reliance. I’m just a regular guy trying to become as self-reliant and prepared as humanly possible. Compared to preparedness experts, and I’ve read many of their books, I don’t even come close to being ready. I don’t own any night vision goggles or fancy optics for my guns. Would those be cool to own? Sure. I just don’t have $3,000.00 extra fiat dollars lying on top of my stash of gold bullion. Dang, I forgot OPSEC! There is no gold in my underground bunker. Now that we are in Great Depression II, I’m guessing many are a little short on money to buy what the ‘experts’ recommend. So I thought I’d share my Regular Guy Preparedness Plan.
1.) Build community. This is a freebie. It cost some time, but that’s it. Building relationships in the community is the most important, yet it’s a glaring weakness of mine. A lone wolf will always object to this strategy. I realize the importance of flying under the radar. Uninvited attention is bad. I got that part. It’s just so anti-me in the other compartments of my life. I’m very social. So are we stuck with the YOYO (Your Own Your Own) method of survival? Not hardly. Retreating to the jungle to live off the land is so Hollywood. Stop the fantasy.
Is mediocre good enough? I hope so. I’m a serial multi-tasker – read mediocre at lots of stuff. I’m also well aware that I can’t provide all that I need for long-term survival. I’m below average at first aid and medical skills. I’m not going to spend time trying to become a combat field doctor or a RN. I’m not that interested in the field. For those that are, great! For our immediate group, we have someone who is medically trained. Then there’s that motor head cousin of mine that can rebuild an engine blindfolded. Not me. I can do the basics. There are other areas that need to be shored up in our group. That’s where building community comes in. But how?
Here are some places to network, build community, and plan your prison-break.
- Local meet up groups. Face to face and local is both real and productive.
- Family – if possible. This one is often times the hardest to penetrate in many cases. This is whispered at some Thanksgiving dinners – “Okay sweetie, stay away from crazy Uncle Henry. He totes guns and raises chickens in his yard.“
- Local farmers markets and food co-ops. Buying local builds community.
- Gun/hunting/hiking/outdoor clubs. It’s easy to bring up preparedness speak with folks sitting around a fire eating beans and sipping rot-gut coffee or bourbon. “Man, what if we had to do this for more than a long weekend?“
- Church, school, and work. Like fishing, you have to go where they are to catch them. Even then, they don’t always take what you offer.
- Internet prepper groups: Wolfe Blog, Prepper Groups, American Preppers Network, Alt-Market, A.N.T.S. (Americans Networking To Survive). Be wise about sharing personal info until you establish trust. Face to face meetings can follow when both parties are ready. I know, it sounds like online dating.
2.) Regular Guy Skills. People tell me I’m handy – right before they ask me to do stuff for free. I like adding skills to my toolbox. I’m best at those that I enjoy and interest me. You probably are too. Skills don’t cost much, but offer a great return on my time. Here are some Regular Guy Skills I find helpful and relatively cheap:
Chemistry: The most overlooked skill in survival. I’d like to recommend “Caveman Chemistry” by Kevin M. Dunn. Mr. Dunn offers 28 projects to help you become a producer, more self-reliant, and a cool science nerd. Want to make your own mead, gunpowder, soap, pharmaceuticals, and plastics? Get the book.
Build stuff with your hands. If you already do this in your day job, start reading the book above. Or try this one: Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World. Read broadly to stretch your mind outside the preparedness world. Diversify.
For those that are trapped in cubicle hell, find little things to do around the house to shrink that honey-do-list. Make your own gear. Learn to restore and sharpen an axe or other bladed tool. Here’s an old adze I restored last month.
Treating an adze I found at a flea market
I recently made a cedar bench for Dirt Road Girl with pioneer hand tools – I did cheat and use my chainsaw twice. I ended up building a shaving horse in the process. Another useful bonus tool created from this bench project.
Make stuff with paracord.
Learn to sew. Check out my wool hunting shirt I made from a 20 dollar, 100% wool army blanket.
More Dave Canterbury inspired gear
Stock your toolbox. You can pick up pioneer tools and other off-grid hand tools cheaply at yard sales, estate sales, Free Cycle, thrift stores, and grandma’s attic. I like new stuff as long as it’s old. I bought a set of bits and a brace from a guy off the side of the road for $10. The local antique malls charge $25 to $45 for these items. If you buy nice, you only buy once. Avoid cheaply made junk.
Bits for my brace
What’s on your wall?
3.) Regular Guy Priorities. I use conventional wisdom from experts when preparing for SHTF sometimes. Chew on the hay, spit out the sticks. Other times I kick conventional wisdom to the curb. I’m unorthodox. For instance, I don’t store a lot of wheat. Your kidding, right!? No. It’s not something I eat. The experts tell me to stock things that I use in my eating plan now and practice cooking from my food storage. I stock stuff I eat. There’s logic for ya.
I write IEP’s (Individualized Education Plan) for students with special needs. Preparedness should be no different. Each of us should write our own IPP (Individualized Preparedness Plan). There so much information out there that most folks have no idea where to start. Avoid information overload by starting with your unique, individual situation. Throw out the cookie cutter books and build your own IPP. Priorities for your family will differ from our family (ex: environment, finances, mindset, fitness level, diet, health, spirituality, location, etc.).
Start with the basics: water, food, shelter, and a way to protect yourself. This is enough material for an article all to itself. I’ll try to keep it short. Develop your IPP based on your individualized needs. I hope I’m preaching to the choir about self-defense. If you’re not comfortable owning evil guns, develop a plan to defend your family with other tools. Guns are simply tools by the way. No different from your Smart Car, garden hoe, or blender. Your faith may be a roadblock to owning these fine tools. If so, check out Kathy Jackson’s article tackling Christians and Passivism.
If you’ve got a spring or well on your property, water is less a priority than someone who lives in the Arizona desert. My point here is to keep ringing the individualized bell. Break the mold. Be yourself. Prepare for yourself and the unique needs of your family… no matter what the experts tell you. To assume their plan will work for you and me is dangerous and costly. Think. For. Yourself.
Look, I just gave you the best advice ever. Does that make me an expert now?
Doing the stuff,